On February 13, the second season of Narcos: Mexico became available on Netflix. This is a soft restart of Narcos, one of the main criminal dramas of our time. After a two-year hiatus, the show returned to the small screens, promising the completion of the story of Miguel Gallardo – in the past the most influential Narcosbaron of Mexico. Our film commentator Denis Yuriev plunged into the world of gang warfare and destructive criminal greatness for ten hours, which eats everyone who stands in his way.
“Narcos” is one of the few Netflix shows that, instead of turning into an inglorious parody of itself with each new season, evolves, tries to find a new creative approach and original meanings. While remaining extremely recognizable and distinctive.
The first two seasons about Pablo Escobar absolutely cynical and with evil irony dissected the phenomenon of a good bandit, which helps a simple people and in the eyes of compatriots becomes a lifetime legend. It turned out that any Robin Hood is actually a complete bastard, hiding behind the mob for personal gain and power. The third season, unfortunately, could not find a new worthy object for reasoning about the eternity and immutability of evil, and it turned out to be boring, empty and absolutely not memorable.
Therefore, the series was quickly restarted, put on a new track, and sent by an angry locomotive to the very heart of Mexico. And it seems to have worked.
The new protagonist in the person of drug lord Gallardo did not resemble Escobar and provided a lot of reasons for a detailed psychoanalysis. The finale of the season was intriguing, the character development worked for the script – everything said that the restart was successful. And the continuation, despite some tiredness of the scriptwriters and the audience from each other, only proved the fidelity of this decision, atypical for new realities, not to stand still.
The new season directly continues the history begun, leading it to a sad and logical end. After the abduction and murder of Agent Enrique Camarena, UBN declares a real hunt for all those involved, declaring Gallardo the number one target.
Agent Walt Breslin becomes the head of the special operation, who, having put together a team of his colleagues and local police officers, sometimes wages an illegal and not approved by the leadership struggle against drug mafia. Naturally, not only gangsters, but also a corrupt law enforcement system and corrupt politicians, who have long been part of the criminal business, are getting in his way.
Without a doubt, a two-year break between the seasons benefited the scriptwriting team. The final script looks almost better than what was done in the very first and favorite season of the original “Narcos”. From the very first episodes, a new concept of the show has become apparent, consisting in the complete absence of differences between the parties to the conflict. If earlier UBN employees, although they did not look like fluffy bunnies, still remained good guys on the screen, now the boundaries of what is permissible and moral standards are completely erased.
Cops substitute their own colleagues, play a dirty game, prefer a forceful method of resolving the issue and do not reckon with civilian losses if their mission requires it.
From this, the required ambiguity was finally fixed in the script, and some drug lords seem not so bad guys against the background of what law enforcement officers do.
It was this ambiguity, the lack of black and white, that was not enough to finally strengthen the main idea of the whole show: everyone is to blame for what is happening in the world of drug trafficking, and not just swarthy guys driving a truck loaded with cocaine.
By the second season, it became obvious that the global plot of the series has exhausted itself, and can not give the viewer anything new. Another story about how a simple guy was able to organize his own empire and eventually burned out on greed and ambitiousness, no longer touches and does not intrigue. Ok, everyone has long understood that there is no need to try to destroy Rome. You just have to wait until he drowns in his own feuds and falls apart into bricks. This metaphor, addressed to the world Narcosyndicts, has been sufficiently disclosed in the history of Escobar, with which it all began.
Of course, we can say that the show is based on real events, and you should not expect Shakespearean stories from simple Mexican bandits. It is clear that in the end, everything will be distorted due to attendants, influence and stupid insults. But to stand still, trying once again to sell it all to the viewer, is also impossible. And the scriptwriters, fortunately, understood this very well.
From that, the main plot branch is farther and farther to the background, leaving a place on the stage of stories that are secondary to the global line. The new season is just a storehouse of such amazing mini-stories. The series, grandiose in its idea, about the abduction of the Mexican inquiry officer and the executioner in terms of setting and dialogue in some places is not inferior to the best full-length psychological thrillers.
From the episode about the abduction of the rich nephew of the local governor, the ears of Ocean’s Eleven (in a good way) stick out. It is worth noting the self-contained single-episode story about the Drug Baron, who decided to retire with honor, trying to close old questions before this. Honestly, about this hero, his youth and the path to the top of evil, I want to see a separate spin-off.
The elaboration of the characters’ characters, the plot connections between them, and the script constructions of some episodes are sometimes pleasantly surprising. Who needs the main story about the rise and fall of the boring Miguel Gallardo, when he wants to quickly find out what happened to that cop with his dead brother Narcosman.
And the ambiguous tone set at the beginning, where it is not clear who is the villain and who is the hero, becomes the highlight of all this scenario canvas. And, by the way, Scoot McNairy, perfectly coping with the role of the main character after the departure of Michael Peigny, was simply the personification of this new approach.
His hero is the very salt of the whole show – a man who himself cannot figure out who he is and why he does sometimes terrible things for the good of his country.
The way the actor managed to play his complex character deserves a small but mandatory bonus.
Not lost the new season and recognizable mix of high and low styles. Naturalistic cruelty is also bordered here with stunning views of original Mexico, and guitar motifs reminiscent of the soundtrack of Last of Us.
Every moment, every smallest detail on which the camera focuses, works on the atmosphere. A simple example is a tense episode with two drug lords negotiating in a small church soaked with incense like cigarette smoke. Each reflection, sunny highlight and close-up on the details emphasize the uncomfortability of this scene.
“Narcos” still remains one of the most beautiful and talentedly shot series, keeping the brand of style and camera professionalism.
But the most important thing that the new season was able to save was the writers’ desire to show the world of drug business that is far from the average person, not as a mass-cultural myth, but as part of human life. All these evil gangsters with huge machetes at the ready seem like little people here, overwhelmed by their own vices and weaknesses.
Murders are only part of the work routine for them, and the honor that is said so much in Mexican folk songs is just a beautiful word. And that’s exactly what offends all the real criminals, who became the main for many characters in the show.
They wildly dislike that their legendary images are so cleverly debunked by some gringos from Hollywood. So, Narcos is still doing its job perfectly. If even the corrupt former Mexican president makes the service hide his name in the dialogs, then it is worth a lot.